U.S. Navy is developing target-tracking ‘smart bullets’ to defend against drone swarms

navy smart bullets submarine 1056665 1280
Photo via skeeze/Pixabay
Now that drones are used by most modern militaries, swarm attacks are a very real threat to the United States Navy. But not to worry — the The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a solution for that: smart bullets.

DARPA recently announced an $8 million contract with Raytheon Missile Systems to enter phase two of its Multi Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES) program. As part of the deal, Raytheon will build and test MAD-FIRES bullets that are able to alter their path in real time, according to Military Aerospace. Additionally, they’ll be able to track and engage with multiple targets with serious precision from a variety of different directions.

Concepts and simulations of the technology were completed during the first phase, which also included Lockheed Martin Corp. Missiles and Fire Control. Lockheed will likely receive a contract to conduct their own prototyping rounds, too.

MAD-FIRES smart bullets are expected to be fast, powerful, and have the same accuracy as regular missiles, using 20 to 40 caliber ammunition. So even if attacks from drones, missiles, planes, or swarm boats are coming from all different directions, the MAD-FIRES bullets could potentially take all of them out.

The Navy is also working with the Office of Naval Research to develop unmanned swarm boats designed to patrol U.S. shores. As with its MAD-FIRES bullets, the swarm boat program is part of the Navy’s increased efforts to embrace technological advances. Unmanned swarm boats reduce risk, while MAD-FIRES bullets offer a new, low-cost solution for “guided, gun-launched projectiles.”

Raytheon’s phase two is scheduled to finish in March 2018. So while the concept of “smart bullets’ seems like something you’d only see in the movies, it seems that it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Emerging Tech

Bizarre stork robot uses a drone to compensate for its weak, twig-like legs

Developed by engineers from Japan’s University of Tokyo, Aerial Biped is a robot whose top half is comprised of a flying quadrotor UAV that's rooted to the ground by thin stork-like legs.
Gaming

The N64 was an all-star console with a line-up of all-star games. These were the best.

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in August, from ‘Dark Tourist’ to 'Disenchantment'

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

The PlayStation 5 rumors are heating up, and the console may arrive by 2020

Recent rumors suggest the launch of the PlayStation 5 is closer than you might expect. Predictions range from 2018 to 2021, and some reports are already making definitive claims about the hardware.
Gaming

How to connect a Nintendo Switch controller to your PC

Nintendo's Switch controllers, including the Joy-Cons and the aptly titled Pro Controller, use Bluetooth, which makes them compatible with your PC. Here's how to start using them for PC gaming.
Emerging Tech

Regular Wi-Fi can accurately detect bombs, chemicals, and weapons in bags

Surveillance cameras and bag searches have become commonplace when it comes to security in public venues. But researchers may have found a different way to detect suspicious items: regular Wi-Fi.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Emerging Tech

Science says waste beer could help us live on Mars

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new super-insulating gel, created from beer waste, which could one day be used for building greenhouse-like habitats on Mars.
Emerging Tech

Engineers have made a new type of lithium battery that won’t explode

While statistically rare, the lithium-ion batteries used in mobile devices have been known to burst into flames. Researchers from University of Michigan have been working to change that.
Emerging Tech

Genetically engineered bacteria paint microscopic masterpieces

By engineering E. coli bacteria to respond to light, scientists at the University of Rome have guided it like tiny drones toward patterns that depict Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk’s Boring Company wants to dig a tunnel to Dodger Stadium

Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to build a high-speed transportation tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium to a nearby Metro station. The system would run 150-mph passenger pods between the stadium and a terminus to the west.
Emerging Tech

Watch as a ‘lifeguard drone’ rescues a swimmer struggling at sea

These days, drones are finding a range of roles in a myriad of fields. Lifeguards, for example, are making use of the drone's ability to quickly deploy flotation devices while also offering an eye in the sky to survey the scene.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? Here are the best drones on the market right now

To help you navigate the increasingly large and ever-changing landscape of consumer UAVs, here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.